The LEADER-funded Cooperation Project has continued to facilitate collaboration in the following areas:
- Education: Jane Powell of LEAF reported on her exploratory work with schools and with members of the Dyfi Biosphere Education Group. There is continuing enthusiasm for collaboration under the Biosphere banner but much reduced capacity for this. The New Curriculum in Wales will offer new opportunities for teachers to use the local natural environment in delivering a rounded education, and there is serious interest in using the Biosphere as context.
- Food and Drink: Ecodyfi is exploring with the hospitality sector how to increase the use and promotion of local, fresh and seasonal produce. Primary and secondary producers are now part of the conversation, and this loose cluster of businesses is likely to develop a sub-brand of the Dyfi Biosphere. The next step is to clarify the criteria for its use - on products as well as on business literature.
- Farming: Gwyn Jones has been contracted to facilitate discussions between (and with) farmers about whether and how the Biosphere could help their business planning post-Brexit.
A new 18-month project called Mixed Farming: Histories and Futures starts in April 2019, co-funded by LEADER and the Ashley Family Foundation, and a new 12-month project called Dyfi Biosphere Outdoor Health starts in April 2019, funded by Welsh Government..
Three Town Councils in the Biosphere have declared Climate Emergencies, and the Biosphere Partnership is considering how to support the resulting action planning.
Contractors WSP with the BRO Partnership have completed the reports commissioned by Natural Resources Wales that will allow the Biosphere Partnership to submit a Periodic Review this year.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire
- A further eight businesses have gone through Biosphere Certification ranging from local B&B to venison farm to wood chip manufacturer.
- Continue to work closely with Visit Scotland (VS). A member of the team joined VS at an international marketing event in Amsterdam promoting the GSAB. Also working with VS on;
- UNESCO Biosphere Trail – in GSAB we have a small sub group working to explore what our distinctive offer should be through the trail;
- South of Scotland Marketing Campaign;
- iKnow Partnership agreement between GSAB Charter sign ups and VS offering training, promotion etc.
- GSAB hosted Katriona Carmichael, Deputy Director for Land Use at The Scottish Government, and members of her team in the Biosphere, exploring work GSAB has been doing to promote a more integrated approach to future land use and the potential role the Biosphere could play in leading a Regional Land Use Partnership.
- In partnership with the Galloway National Park group, we are meeting with Mairi Gougeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, at the end of April, to raise the profile of SW Scotland natural and cultural environment and the shared objectives of the proposed national park and Biosphere in using them to stimulate the local economy.
- We are still delivering three key projects in the Biosphere that are furthering awareness of the Biosphere: PLACE, Biosphere Experiences and SHAPE + Guide Training. All three finish in spring 2020, so thoughts are turning to what next to ensure we still have officers pushing the biosphere message. Current possibilities being considered focus on further use of the Sense of Place toolkit with communities and small businesses in the region to further the Biosphere Community message.
- GSAB continues to be a key partner in supporting the development and delivery of two c. £5M HLF Landscape Partnership Schemes, run by Dumfries & Galloway Council and East Ayrshire Council respectively.
- We are working with the James Hutton Institute on their research into the GSAB Sense of Place toolkit and how it can used to map cultural ecosystem services. They have joined us for two community workshops, and we are planning a third larger event in Girvan, a small south Ayrshire town.
- Through INTERFACE, we are working with MSc students from Strathclyde University, who are carrying out research into the economic value of the UNESCO Biosphere brand for marketing products, services and packaged experiences. Start up meetings and initial presentations have taken place.
- Ayrshire College Level 4 Professional Cookery students have developed and submitted a menu for World Biodiversity Day on 22nd May;
- Starter - Roasted venison loin with blackcurrants and shredded leeks
- Main - Navarin of lamb printaniere
- Dessert - St Clements cheesecake with caramelised orange
Isle of Man
- We hosted visits from Dr Meriem Bouamrane, Programme Specialist, UNESCO MAB Programme, and Professor Dr Enny Sudarmonowati, Chair of the MAB International Coordinating Council; they provided us with good insight into activity and opportunities globally.
- We are creating a local vision and strategy for UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, and have held workshops with stakeholders and will consult more widely.
- As part of our strategy to reduce the impact of single-use plastics on the environment, we launched Refill Isle of Man, part of Refill UK run by City to Sea in January 2019. We already have more than 100 Refill stations signed up.
- We attended Destinations: the Holiday and Travel Show in London with Visit Isle of Man (February 2019). UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man was also featured heavily on the Isle of Man stand at the International Food Exhibition in London (March 2019).
- We hosted training for the Guild of Manx Registered Tour Guides, who will incorporate Biosphere messaging and signage into their service.
- With Girl-guiding Isle of Man, we launched a Biosphere Badge for the movement in the Isle of Man, with members working towards fulfilling elements of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- In April 2019, the Isle of Man Government launched a £250,000 Island Community Fund, administered by Manx Lottery Trust, to assist projects that are in line with the Biosphere ethos.
- We continue to grow our Partnership scheme and have 170 Partners.
- We submitted two dishes to UNESCO for the project for World Biodiversity Day, 22nd May: Manx queenies and bonnag.
- Road signs are now in place at the main road entrances to the BR. Constraints of Highway sign law restricted the amount of information and potential locations of the signs. The advent of the signs has signaled the start of a set of public campaigns. This includes a campaign for Plastic Free North Devon and another called Pledge for Nature.
- Along with the AONB, the BR is developing a project for GP green/social prescribing to link with GP surgeries in 3 towns and offer some nature based activities via “community connectors” to bridge the surgery to environmental activity.
- The SWEEP programme is in 2nd round of research project delivery. The new projects include monitoring the health activity as in the above project, improving interpretation of ESA remote sensing data, and marine based work on ecosystem services.
- The Landscape Pioneer Project is developing the basis for better local decision making and including the natural capital in the local health and wellbeing board for example. Through the Pioneer we are testing the Net Gain policy, developing the New Environment land management scheme test and trials.
- The Marine Pioneer has funding to develop a Marine Natural Capital Plan (plus). This will draw together the varius sub-programmes of the Pioneer, including the natural capital audit and risk register.
- Along with the landscape pioneer approaches to innovative finance will be developed for key capital enhancements. This includes how we develop a natural capital trust in and for the BR.
- The Pioneer programmes have combined efforts on how to improve communication about concepts such as natural capital and the pioneers with WWF and EA funding short films.
- Woods for water project now has Water environment grant approval for 2 years. (£380K)
- Natural Flood management is being piloted in coast and catchments. The EA are using the BR to test the natural capital accounting tool to help with Flood Risk management financing in a small test catchment. DWT are also being funded from Interreg for NFM measure on the culm grassland.
- BCHT Interreg project had a successful kick off meeting. The Masterplanning tool kit is being designed with University of Exeter and North Devon. (Audomarois leading from the French side.
- Future work: Circular economy promotion. A potential briefing event at the house of lords. And a Mid term review of BR strategy
The main achievement of WRB since the last UK MAB meeting was the launch of our 5-year Strategic Plan in Ullapool in February by the Convener of the Highland Council. Despite (or perhaps because of) the poor weather, we had a good/respectable turn-out from a geographical spread.
Our thematic working groups are making progress, particularly Tourism, Natural Heritage and Education, all of whom are developing partnerships with other organisations in our area. The main thrust of the SHAPE project is the developing a Destination Management Plan for Wester Ross. The Natural Heritage group is concentrating on woodlands and the Education group is building up a rapport with our 3 local high schools.
We continue our participation in developing the UNESCO National Trail in Scotland.
Financial support continues to be an issue as we get so near to obtaining funding and then our hopes are dashed. SNH have been very supportive and we have been pledged some money for next financial year so that we can maintain our Co-ordinator on a part-time basis – not ideal, but better than no Co-ordinator!